The Sensing and Numeration of Mental Health in a Refugee Camp
European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET)
In this paper we draw attention to the duality of mental health assessment in a refugee camp: its sensing and numeration by Medical Assistants providing door-step services to the refugees. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Kutapalong, Bangladesh, we explore the moods that pervade the refuges and their dwellings as these moods are important to the Medical Assistants that service the refugees with health care and in turn assess their mental health. While we consider attuning to moods in Heidegger’s sense as pervasive to the human existence, we consider the numeration of mental health by the medical assistants using a screening tool as equally significant. Comprehending how states of mental health are assessed in our case, we argue, requires that we pay attention to both the quantification of mental health by a screening tool as well as the ways that the experience of moods shape the assessments done by the health care professionals. Taking this analytical approach, we show how the assessment of the mental health of refugees by Medial Assistants in a camp setting were inseparably both a question of sensing as well as numeration. Where sensory experience may not be ‘enough’ on its own to warrant referral in the context of the health care infrastructure of the camp, and therefore the agency of numeration is a force that works well as an ally to the sensing of moods impressed on the medical assistants.